Communications infrastructure procedures and guidelines

Some elements of the below may be superceded. Consult the Director, Network Services, Information Systems & Technology, for interpretation.

- June 1 ,1999 - - rev 2.0 Dec 1, 2001 - - rev 2.1 Nov 31, 2002 - - rev 2.2 Jan 12, 2006 - 

Section 1: General

1.1 Introduction

The purpose of this document is to provide a guideline for the standardization of the telecommunications cabling/wireless installations within the University of Waterloo campus.

The intention of this specification is to provide the comprehensive source of information and guidance for those involved with low voltage cabling installations within the Waterloo University campus.

It shall be mandatory that these specifications are adhered to stringently by all UW staff and external contractors, for telecommunications related work on the University of Waterloo campus. The above will be effective as of June 1, 1999 and will be for all moves, adds, and changes in the campus cable plant.

This specification can be readily obtained via the University of Waterloo Communication Cabling Design Guidelines web site. The web site address is CTAG

Review of, and changes to this document will be the responsibility of the Campus Telecommunications Advisory Group (CTAG). Their recommendations will be based on industry standards groups, peer review and professional knowledge.

1.2 Applied codes and standards

This document embraces the following codes and standards:

  • TIA/EIA-568-B.1, B.2, B.3
  • TIA/EIA-569 (CSA-T530)
  • TIA/EIA-606 (CSA-T528)
  • TIA/EIA-607 (CSA-T527)
  • Ontario Hydro - Electrical Safety Code

(These documents are available through IST, Communications. See appendix B for descriptions)

This document provides additional information in regards to Planning and Design, Installation, Testing and Administration of telecommunication cabling within the University of Waterloo campus which is specific to the University of Waterloo campus.

It is recognized that special situations will arise where it may not be possible to follow the specified standards. Each of these situations must be dealt with on an individual basis by CTAG members.

1.3 Approved installers

The installation of the communications cabling is a specialized function, which shall only be performed by companies and workgroups  who have established credentials.

All work performed on University sites must be carried out by a workgroup, of which at least one member has completed a CTAG approved installation training program.

Proof of accreditation of external contractors will be included in all the Tender responses and quotations.

Plant Operations or their designate (IST) shall consider applications from external contractors who submit a detailed schedule of experience and reference sites.

1.4 Scope

A general scope of the work is listed below:

  • Supply and Installation of Telecommunications Racks and Cable Management
  • Supply and Install Patch Panels
  • Supply, Install and Terminate Internal and External Cabling
  • Supply, Install and Terminate Riser Cabling
  • Supply, Install and Terminate UTP Cables to Telecommunications Outlets
  • Supply and Install Telecommunication Outlets and appropriate Plates
  • Supply Patch Cords
  • Supply and Install Conduits, J-hooks & Cable Trays
  • Jumpering & Termination
  • Supply and Install Labeling & Identification
  • Supply, Install and Terminate Earthing and Telecommunications Reference Conductors
  • Testing
  • Removal of Obsolete Cabling
  • As built drawings & other records
  • Fire Stopping

1.5 Installation policy

  1. All new installations of communications cabling and any refurbishment or upgrade of existing communication cabling within the University shall comply with the standards set out in this policy.
  2. All new installations of communication cabling and any refurbishment or upgrade of existing communication cabling within the University are funded sufficiently to meet the standards set out in this policy and that such new work or refurbishment of pre-existing services does not proceed if sufficient funding is not available.
  3. Only personnel supervised on site by an approved installer (Section 1.3) are permitted to install, extend or refurbish communication cabling within the University.
  4. All communication cabling works shall be fully documented prior to any work commencing.
  5. Prior to any works commencing all structured cabling design work must be approved by the appropriate faculty CTAG member.
  6. All communication cabling works are "as built" documented on practical completion. Copies of the logical diagrams, physical cabling layout and test results will be provided to IST.

All cable installations in University facilities that are not properly installed or documented will be subject to review by Plant Operations or designate. Corrective measures will be taken to bring this cabling up to the minimum standards deemed acceptable by Plant Operations or their designate (IST) will be at the expense of the owner of the cabling system.

Section 2: Planning, design and installation

2.1 Cable/Connection hardware

Cable and connecting hardware used for campus communications installations must be of the type recommended by CTAG. 

A central communications parts repository will be maintained by IST/Communications.

2.2 Horizontal cabling

Horizontal cabling is the portion of the telecommunications cabling system that extends from the work area telecommunications outlet to the horizontal cross-connect in the telecommunication room. The horizontal cabling includes the horizontal cables, the telecommunication outlet in the work area, and the horizontal cross-connect.

The maximum horizontal distance shall be 90 meters (295 feet), from the horizontal cross-connect in the telecommunication room to the work area outlet.

Work area components extend from the telecommunications outlet to the station equipment. Any special requirement in work area cabling (e.g. pair crossover) shall be done outside of the telecommunication outlet.

Each work area telecommunications outlet shall be connected to a horizontal cross-connect in the telecommunication room. A telecommunications room on the same floor should serve each work area.

A minimum of two telecommunications outlets shall be provided to each work area.

Always use suitable connecting hardware and equipment cables to make the connection to telecommunications equipment.

2.3 Backbone cabling

The purpose of vertical cabling (backbone cable) is to provide interconnection between telecommunication rooms, equipment rooms and entrance facilities. The vertical cabling consists of vertical cables and backbone cross-connects.

The use of UTP cable should be limited to a maximum distance of 90 meters (295 feet). See Appendix D for CTAG approved cable and connecting hardware recommendations.

2.5 Pathways and spaces

2.5.1 Horizontal pathways

Horizontal pathways are the routes taken for the installation of cable from the telecommunications room to the work area. The pathways can be composed of cable tray, conduit, under floor duct, and ceiling spaces

2.5.2 Backbone pathways

Backbone pathways consist of conduit runs or risers going between floors, and are used to connect telecommunications rooms.

2.5.3 J-Hooks

J-hooks are to be used to support telecommunications cabling within ceiling spaces. They should be spaced (to a maximum) of approximately 4 feet apart. Cable pathways should follow a prescribed route going over top of heating ducts and other conduit if possible.

2.5.4 Telecommunication rooms, equipment rooms and entrance facilities

Telecommunication rooms

A telecommunications room serves a floor of a building and contains telecommunication equipment and cross-connects. A telecommunications room joins the backbone cable to the horizontal cabling system.

  • All Telecommunications Rooms shall have direct access to the hallway or other such corridor. Telecommunications rooms shall not be shared by other building services such as Electrical (i.e. Electrical Distribution Panels or Transformers) or Custodial Services (i.e. Cleaning Carts, Solvents, Buffers). Either pose a threat of damage or EMF interference that makes them totally unacceptable for Telecommunications Equipment & wiring. Supporting codes are found in both BICSI TDMM & the TIA/EIA 568B wiring standard unequivocally against Multi-use Rooms.
  • Telecommunications Rooms shall not contain any type of sink or be used as storage for Custodial or any other such supplies.
  • Telecommunications Rooms shall not be used for storage of any kind. (I.e. Books, Furniture, A/C Filters, Light Bulbs, etc…)
  • Floors in Telecommunications rooms shall be treated concrete or tile. Carpeted floors are totally unacceptable for Telecommunications Rooms due to the associated static electricity they create posing a threat of damage to sensitive Network Electronics.
  • Each Telecommunications Room will have a minimum of three 4 in. sleeved core holes between floors. Empty core holes will be properly fire-stopped with intumescent fire pillows until they are needed.
  • At least one long wall of a Telecommunications Rooms will be covered in ¾" fire rated plywood. From floor to ceiling. If fire rated plywood is not available then the plywood shall be painted with at least two coats of fire resistant paint.
  • All Telecommunications rooms shall be equipped with a grounding bus bar that is tied back to the building’s grounding system.
  • Telecommunications rooms that contain equipment or relay racks shall allow for 32" of open space on all sides of the rack.
  • Telecommunications rooms must have adequate ventilation for the equipment that it houses.
  • There must be adequate light
  • Telecommunications rooms shall have a minimum of two duplex outlets.
  • Telecommunications rooms in any new construction shall adhere to all specifications in CSA-T530.

Equipment rooms

An equipment room houses larger telecommunications or computer equipment. An equipment room may also contain the building entrance facilities and serve as a telecommunications room.

Entrance facilities

Entrance facilities are the location where telecommunication services enter a building.

2.6 Testing

UTP and fibre cable, both horizontal and backbone shall be tested in accordance with TIA/EIA-568-B.1

2.7 Building structure considerations

Guidelines to be followed:

  • Under no circumstances shall any cutting of the structural parts of buildings, such as webs or concrete ceiling beams, be undertaken without prior approval of the Plant Operations Department.
  • Plant Operations Department must first approve equipment installations in mechanical or electrical rooms.
  • Smoke, heat or vibrations may activate fire alarm devices. Take precautions to ensure that an accidental alarm is not initiated.
  • Cable shall be concealed in all finished areas such as offices, classrooms, labs and corridors.
  • In accessible partitions, such as drywall, cables shall be fished through the partition to flush mounted outlets.
  • In inaccessible walls, such as masonry or block walls, cables shall be concealed in raceway using appropriate raceway boxes and fitting.
  • Wall outlets shall be mounted 300 mm above finished floor or 150 mm above existing desks or countertops. For general appearance, try to match the height of existing outlets.
  • Provide sleeves where cables run through floors, ceilings or walls and firestop all sleeves.

2.8 Removal of obsolete cabling

Obsolete cable shall be removed. Care must be taken to avoid damaging any other cable that may be run in the same area as that cable which is to be removed. Records including type of cable, origin and destination of cable removed must be submitted to IST.

Section 3: Administration

3.1 Records

All communication cabling works must be "as built" documented on practical completion. Copies of the logical diagrams, physical cabling layout and test results will be provided to the IST nominated Officer through their Faculty Technical Consultant or designate. Communications cabling shall not be used until it has been tested. All records and test results must be submitted to IST within two (2) business days of the completion of the job.

3.2 Labeling

See appendix C for labeling examples

3.3 Colour coding

Patch Cables Description
Blue Category 5 and 5E connections
Yellow Category 6 connections
Red Crossover (x) connections (PCPC, SwitchSwitch
Green Backbone connections
Orange Powered UTP connections. e.g. VoIP connections

3.4 Drawings

An up to date record of the as installed drawings shall be kept in the telecommunications room, as well as in the IST offices and IST Communications Support Group website. An as installed drawing is a cabling schematic diagram for an area supplied from a telecommunications room, showing the location and designation of each outlet.

Section 4: Safety

4.1 General

4.2 Fire-stopping

The purpose of fire-stopping is to prevent the spread of fire and/or smoke throughout a building. Any time a fire-rated barrier is penetrated it provides a means for fire and smoke to spread.

All penetrations into fire walls or core holes between floor must be properly fire-stopped in accordance with the guidelines in BICSI TDMM (8th Edition) Chapter 22 as well as any applicable national, provincial and local codes.

4.3 Asbestos

Refer to UW Health and Safety Website for information concerning cabling through asbestos areas.

 Work Procedures for Ceiling Spaces Containing Asbestos

Section 5: Wireless

5.1 Purpose

To maintain the integrity of the University of Waterloo network and to minimize interference caused by incorrectly configured equipment.

5.2 Introduction

All departments and individuals (including students) who wish to install wireless network access devices anywhere on the University network must adhere to the directions and requirements outlined in the Campus Network Advisory Group (CNAG) and Campus Cabling Infrastructure Committee (CTAG) documents, found at:

5.3 Requests

Any group or individual that wishes to have 802.11 wireless  networking within a building or area must submit a request to the CTAG Technical Consultant for their faculty.

As an alternative, requests may also be made by sending an email to

5.4 Site survey

Upon request, the Faculty CTAG Technical Consultant will perform a site survey to determine the optimal number and location of wireless access points. The Technical Consultant will also assign a channel for the access points, and arrange for IP addresses on the appropriate subnet.

5.5 Records

IST will maintain a registry of all wireless networks and access points.

5.6 Conflict resolution

In the case of a conflict the CTAG member for that faculty or group will advise the client of the existing University of Waterloo Standards with regards to the installation of wireless access points and try to work out  an amicable solution. If the conflict remains, the issue will be brought to the attention of the  Associate Provost of Information Systems & Technology.

Section 6: Appendices

Appendix A - Definitions and acronyms as used in this document

Term Definition


The method for labelling, documentation and usage needed to implement moves, additions and changes of the telecommunications infrastructure.


A panel (e.g., wood or metal) used for mounting connecting hardware and equipment.
Backbone Cabling That cabling that distributes from the entrance facility to the equipment room, telecommunications rooms, and between buildings.
Bend Radius The radius that cable can bend before the risk of damage or decrease in transmission performance.
Bonding The permanent joining of metallic parts to form an electrically conductive path that will assure electrical continuity, the capacity to conduct safely any current likely to be imposed, and the ability to dangerous potentials.
Cable Tray A ladder, trough, spline, solid bottom or channel raceway system intended for the support of telecommunications cable.
Campus University of Waterloo owned or occupied buildings. (See University of Waterloo Campus)
Conduit A rigid or flexible metallic or non-metallic raceway of circular cross-section through which cables can be pulled.
Cross-Connection A connection scheme between cabling runs, subsystems, and equipment using patch cords or jumpers that attach to connecting hardware on each end.
Delay Skew The difference in the propagation delay between any pairs in the same cable.
Earth Ground An electrical connection to earth obtained by a grounding electrode system.
Electromagnetic Interference The interference in signal transmission or reception resulting from the coupling of electrical or magnetic fields.
ELFEXT Equal Level Far End Crosstalk is the ratio of the attenuated signal on one pair to the crosstalk on an adjacent pair at the far end.
Entrance Facility An entrance to a building for both public and private network service cables including the entrance point at the building wall and continuing to the entrance room space.
Term Definition
Fire-stop A material, device, or assembly of parts in a fire rated wall or floor, to prevent passage of flame, smoke or gases through the rated barrier.
Firewall A wall that helps prevent fire spreading from one fire zone or area to another and that runs from structural floor to structural ceiling.
Ground A conducting connection, intentional or accidental, between a circuit (or equipment) and the earth (or to come conducting body that acts in place of the earth).
Horizontal Cabling Consists of cabling that extends between and includes the horizontal cross-connect and the telecommunications outlet.
Horizontal Cross-connect A cross-connect of horizontal cabling to other cabling, e.g., horizontal, backbone, equipment.
Innerduct Additional conduit placed inside a larger diameter conduit.
Intermediate Cross-connect Across-connect between the main cross-connect and the horizontal cross-connect in backbone cabling.
Interbuilding Backbone A backbone network providing communications between more that one building.
Intrabuilding Backbone A backbone network providing communications within a building
Low Voltage Cabling The medium, either copper of fibre, used to distribute telecommunications signals.
Nominal Velocity of Propagation Refers to the velocity of the signal in a cable , typically expressed as a fraction of the speed of light.
Open Office Cabling The cabling that distributes from the telecommunications room to the open office area utilizing a consolidation point or multi-user telecommunications outlet.
Pathway A facility for the placement of telecommunications cable.
Penetration Opening made in fire-rated barrier (architectural structures or assemblies).
Power Sum NEXT Power Sum assumes all pairs in a cable contribute to crosstalk, using a formula that totals crosstalk power.
Propagation Delay The time interval required for a signal to be transmitted from one end of the circuit to the other.
Pull Strength The maximum pulling force that can be safely applied to a cable without incurring damage.
Raceway Any enclosed channel designed expressly for holding wires or cables.
Split Pairs When the physical pairs are separated but pair continuity is maintained.
Telecommunications A branch of technology concerned with the transmission, emission and reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sound: that is, information of any nature by cable, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems.
Telecommunications Room An enclosed space for housing telecommunications equipment, cable terminations, and cross-connects.
University of Waterloo Campus University of Waterloo owned or occupied buildings. (See Campus)
Work Area A building space where the occupants interact with telecommunications terminal equipment.
Work Group In the case of this document, a workgroup refers to the individuals responsible for installing structured cable systems.

Appendix B - Codes and standards

  • TIA/EIA-607:
    • Bonding and Grounding for Telecommunications in Commercial Buildings (harmonized with CSA-T527)
  • TIA/EIA-606:
  • Telecommunications Administration Standards for Commercial Buildings (harmonized with CSA-T528)
  • Design Guidelines for Telecommunications Wiring System in Commercial Buildings (harmonized with CSA-T568-1)
  • Building Facilities, Design Guidelines for Telecommunications (harmonized with CSA-T530)
  • TIA/EIA-568-B.1, B.2, B.3:
  • TIA/EIA-569:
  • Ontario Hydro - Electrical Safety Code
  • Other applicable building codes and standards.

Appendix C - Labeling

  • F - 17/37 - 01:
  • Fiber Cable (Interbuilding) - origin Building 17destination Building 37 - cable 01
  • FB - 17 - 001:
  • Fiber Backbone (Intrabuilding) - building 17 - individual fiber 001
  • FB - 17 - 1/24:
  • Fiber Backbone Cable (Intrabuilding) - building 17 - contains fiber strands 1 to 24
  • CB - 17 - 33:
  • Copper Backbone (Intrabuilding) - building 17 - cable 33
  • C17 - 4019 - A17:
  • Cable (Horizontal Copper) - building 17 - TR room 4019 - patch panel A - jack 17
  • F17 - 4019 - A21/22 or A21:
  • Fiber (Horizontal) - building 17 - TR room 4019 - patch panel A - jacks 21 & 22(1 fiber/jack) or jack 21(2 fiber/jack)
  • TR 17 - 4019:
  • Telecommunications Room - building 17 - room 4019

Appendix D - Current CTAG approved cable/connecting hardware

Cable - Mohawk/CDT, Part # M56878, Violet Jacket, CAT5E +
font size="3">Cable - Mohawk/CDT, Part # M57195, Yellow Jacket, CAT6

Connecting Hardware - Panduit Pan-Net and Pan-Way line of products.

Appendix E - Standards Committee members

Department Member information
ARTS Doug Maclean (ext. 3144), Voting Member
ENG Martin Macleod (ext. 2956) , Voting Member
ENG Dave Walsh (ext.2788), Faculty Consultant
IST* Roger Lycke (ext. 5718), Records Coordinator
IST* Jim Stockie RCDD (ext. 6910), Voting Member
IST* Greg Cummings (ext. 6469), Standing Member
MFCF Dan Hergott RCDD (ext. 2454) , Voting Member
PLANT OPs Liviu Cananua (ext. 2185), Standing Member
SCIENCE Rick Loney (ext. 5414) , Voting Member
SCIENCE Adrian Presant (ext. 5414) , Standing Member

* In this committee IST represents AHS, FES, the Library and all  Academic Support groups on campus.